Congress enacts bipartisan agreement to protect and strengthen food assistance

December 13, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 12, 2018

CONTACT:
Mario Moretto, Communications Director
mario@mecep.org
(207) 620-1101

Farm Bill compromise protects ability of 180,000 Mainers to put food on the table

AUGUSTA, Maine — With the House voting 369-47 tonight in favor of the compromise 2018 Farm Bill crafted by the House-Senate Conference Committee, bipartisan majorities in Congress have affirmed the critical role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, in fighting hunger in Maine and across the United States.

The Farm Bill protects and strengthens SNAP while rejecting proposals to take food assistance away from Mainers and Americans through cuts and harmful bureaucratic changes. The Senate approved the conference committee’s agreement in an 87-13 vote on Tuesday. Maine’s entire congressional delegation voted in support of the bill.

The agreement ensures SNAP will continue to help feed children and their parents, people with disabilities, and working people with low incomes and inconsistent hours who struggle to make ends meet. While SNAP is just a portion of the Farm Bill, it has long been the nation’s most powerful and effective anti-hunger program. In 2017, SNAP helped 1 in 7 Mainers put food on the table.

“SNAP has enjoyed bipartisan support for ages because it is a commonsense, effective program for reducing hunger and helping families make ends meet,” said James Myall, policy analyst at the Maine Center for Economic Policy. “We commend the House and Senate negotiators for working together, across party lines, to protect food assistance.”

“While no compromise is perfect and there’s still more to be done to combat hunger in Maine, this bipartisan agreement ensures Mainers will continue to be able to use SNAP to feed themselves and their families,” Myall said. “That’s an achievement worth celebrating.”

The new farm bill conference agreement reauthorizes SNAP and encourages approaches to job training and other employment-related services that are proven to be successful, based on pilot projects established by the 2014 Farm Bill.

The compromise legislation also rejects the House’s proposed cuts and other harmful changes to SNAP administration that would have caused more than 2 million people to lose benefits altogether or face reductions that would have made it harder to feed their families.

Background:

SNAP is a vital tool in combating food insecurity and hunger, which are growing problems in our state.

The share of Maine workers who are food-insecure is on the rise. Today, one in ten private-sector wage and salary workers in Maine are food insecure, meaning they do not have access to enough food or to nutritious food. In 2006, the rate was one-in-fifteen. Workers in some sectors are even more likely to be food insecure: Hunger or the risk of hunger is a constant stressor for one in four health care support workers, one in eight food preparation or service workers, and one in eight building and grounds cleaning and maintenance workers (For more information, see “State of Working Maine 2018”).

SNAP supports healthy families by helping them afford nutritious food. It also support’s Maine’s economy. More than 1,500 Maine retailers participate in SNAP. In Maine, the program spurs $400 million in economic activity.

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